good idea

Matt Knapp, a middle school history teacher, used to spend a lot of his own money on supplies for his classroom. Now, he goes to the warehouse-style shop of Extras for Creative Learning.

“I come here for the free loot,” Mr. Knapp said, holding two reams of paper above his head.

Extras for Creative Learning is a nonprofit organization that funnels castoff items from businesses into the hands of teachers, day care providers and parents. And the economic downturn is fueling a boom in some donations.

“We actually have been getting all kinds of office things from places that are either downsizing or moving to smaller offices,” said Jodi Schmidt, the director of the group.

Mr. Knapp pays $40 a year for eight visits to the warehouse, during which he can take as much as he wants. He usually stocks up on poster board and drawing paper, markers and pens, binders, and sometimes cups, fake coins and other props for skits in his classes at the Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School in Boston.

Offering the Best Price for Learning Supplies: Free